The Astros’ bullpen blew another game on Tuesday against the Yankees and it is aggravating. But worrisome? Probably not.
For the second time in three games, the Astros lost a game when leading in the ninth inning. Even to the baseball outsider, we all know that isn’t a good outcome. An outcome like that usually means the bullpen coughed up another lead. And Brad Peacock has surrendered the game-winning run both times.
Am I ready to push the panic button on this bullpen?
Now, I am not telling fans how they should feel. If you feel like the Astros’ bullpen is worth gnashing your teeth over, go ahead. As a free American, you have the right to do what you please. It is none of my business how you internalize your feelings about a baseball team.
That said, I am not going to spend time gnashing my teeth over the Astros’ bullpen. Again, this is my right as a free American. And I will provide you some reasons why this is the case for me.
In terms of overall effectiveness, Houston’s bullpen has been one of the best in baseball. Yes, one of the best in the entire sport.
- 3.02 ERA – first in the AL; fourth-best in MLB
- 2.86 FIP – first in MLB
- 3.11 xFIP – first in MLB
- 2.4 fWAR – fourth-best in the AL; sixth-best in MLB
- 0.85 HR/9 – third-best in the AL; ninth-best in MLB
- 28.0% K Rate – second-highest in the AL; third-highest in MLB
- 6.2% BB Rate – lowest in MLB
Ironically, the Astros could be even better in relief based on the difference between their ERA and FIP. Even the xFIP is relatively close to Houston’s actual performance. Believe it or not, but the Astros’ bullpen is better in certain categories than the vaunted Yankees’ bullpen.
Should I go on?
The numbers, together or separate, indicate that the Astros’ bullpen is one of the best in baseball. When you break it down to an individual level, one can see that this is a solid group.
- Will Harris – 4.00 ERA/1.83 FIP/2.73 xFIP
- Chris Devenski – 2.08 ERA/2.70 FIP/2.77 xFIP
- Hector Rondon – 1.80 ERA/1.91 FIP/2.88 xFIP
- Ken Giles – 4.76 ERA/2.23 FIP/3.37 xFIP
- Collin McHugh – 0.79 ERA/2.54 FIP/2.89 xFIP
- Tony Sipp – 3.48 ERA/3.01 FIP/4.27 xFIP
- Joe Smith – 5.71 ERA/4.15 FIP/3.40 xFIP
- James Hoyt* – 0.00 ERA/12.11 FIP/12.11 xFIP
- Brad Peacock – 2.91 ERA/4.36 FIP/3.08 xFIP
*Note: Hoyt has only recorded one out in the 2018 season*
Sure, there have been hiccups along the way, but that is to be expected during a 162-game season.
The Astros as a team have seven blown saves and a 4-11 record in one-run games. Definitely not optimal. But the seven blown saves by Houston is only 15th in baseball. The Tigers lead baseball with 12 blown saves. The 2018 season is slightly more than one-third of the way finished. Houston is on pace to blow 20 games this season. Last year, the Astros blew 21 games and had a 19-13 record in one-run games. I look for some improvement to hopefully be made in the coming weeks.
Of course, the Astros could improve the bullpen by the trade deadline. Another left-handed reliever who can be used in more high-leverage situations would be a nice addition. As constructed, though, Houston’s bullpen is already pretty good. So, I won’t worry about this group quite yet. That said, ask me again later this summer when the postseason comes into closer view.
**Statistics and information courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs**